SANTA FE ―New Mexico State Auditor Tim Keller is calling on the Department of Health (DOH) to comply with the Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act.
The Office of the State Auditor (OSA) received reports from multiple sources that DOH has not processed applications for medical cannabis patient cards within 30 days as required by state law. The OSA received reports that patients have experienced processing times up to 90 days.
“For patients with debilitating medical conditions, the difference between 30 days and 60 days to get the help they need can be devastating,” Keller said. “That’s why the law is crystal clear about the duty to process applications in a timely manner. The State Auditor’s Office will continue to monitor the Department of Health’s compliance until this is no longer a problem for patients.”
The Lynn and Erin Compassionate Use Act requires DOH to approve or deny applicationswithin 30 days of receipt, regardless of volume or budget constraints. Furthermore, DOH reverted $126,249 to the State General Fund from the Medical Cannabis Fund. The Medical Cannabis Fund was established through legislation in 2012 by Senator Cisco McSorley. Failure to uphold the Compassionate Use Act causes significant hardship to New Mexicans suffering from debilitating medical conditions.
The OSA will monitor DOH’s progress coming into compliance until the backlog is addressed. If the DOH fails to comply, the OSA may take additional actions, such as selecting the agency for special audit.
The Office of the State Auditor helps government work better by providing transparency and accountability for government spending; informing policy choices; and tackling fraud, waste and abuse. OSA is an independently elected executive agency responsible for examining the use of public dollars in New Mexico.